(cross-posted over at Daily Endeavor)
On September 11, 2003, I made a guest post on my friend Ross' blog. What's transpired since then is a long and varied tale, but in many ways centers around the very question in that post:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
For me, the answer to Mary Oliver's venerable question can be distilled to: Don't settle, do what you love. It's one of the true engines that powers people's lives and the economies and world we live in.
This blog is going to tell a story. It's going to take a few years because, as it turns out, it's a story that's never been written before. It's the story of how 100 million people sought out and did what they loved.
Here's where the story starts. There are three parts that you need to know.
First, who? There is a tremendous force arriving on the scene, and at just about the right time. It's the sheer creative force of people coming into their own. Maybe they're 24, or maybe they're 19. Maybe they're your friend, your brother or daughter. Or maybe it's you. This great wave of individuals goes by many names (Millennials, Gen Y, Net Gens, you name it). The labels are not so important, it's the individuals that are at the center of the story -- who they are, and what they choose to do. This generation is going to re-shape the world as we know it. It's already begun, and it's fantastic.
Second, have you ever wondered why is it some people truly thrive in their work life, while others do not? This is the question we set out to answer as part of a research project at Harvard over three years ago. The pattern we found isn't a lack of talent (there is tons) or opportunity (there are more types of jobs today than ever before). We found most people never discover what they truly want to do. Too many people settle. That's a problem -- not only is there great cost to the individual ("wow, my job really sucks"), but also to their companies, colleagues and the economy.
Consider the alternative. What if more people found a career path of genuine interest, however they define it? What if more people were able to find work that lit them up -- how would their lives be different?
In our experience, these people excel, and not just economically. These people have more opportunities to grow and more ways to -- dare we say it -- be happy. They make better colleagues, managers, entrepreneurs, and probably neighbors too. Because they're working from abundance, not scarcity, there's an unmistakable productivity that's unleashed.
Lastly, why now? Most people (96% when we asked) want to find the right job for them, yet many (too many) people wake up at 30 or 50 and say "I guess this is what I do." Figuring out what you want to do is a crucial rite of passage that, crucially, many people are missing. It's not something to figure out in one hour, or even in one job. It's an iterative process that you can learn. Because it's iterative, tremendous gains accrue to those who start early. We want those gains to accrue to you. In fact we want them to accrue to the entire generation.
Plain and simple: We want to see 100 million people thrive.
Though we've been at it for a while, we're just getting started. And we can't do it alone. I hope you'll come along for the ride.